Justia Nebraska Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Homeowners obtained loans from Bank for the construction of a new home and entered into an agreement with Contractor to complete the new home construction. When Homeowners defaulted on payments owed to Contractor and on both loans, the house was sold at foreclosure, and Homeowners filed for bankruptcy. Contractor filed a fourth amended complaint against Homeowners, who were later dismissed as parties, and Bank. Following a trial the court granted summary judgment for Bank on Contractor’s claims of fraud and civil conspiracy. The Supreme Court reversed. After remand, Contractor filed a fifth amended complaint, which differed from the fourth amended complaint in several respects. The district court determined that the election of remedies doctrine and judicial estoppel required a dismissal of Contractor’s claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Contractor’s claims were consistently premised on the existence of a contract, and therefore, no election was required; and (2) Contractor’s claims were based on different facts and obligations, and therefore, both could be pursued. View "deNourie & Yost Homes, LLC v. Frost" on Justia Law

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On March 9, 2013, Stephen Kelly suffered a fall from his home. Stephen was treated at Saint Francis Medical Center by Dr. Jeff Burwell. Stephen died on March 16. On March 10, 2015, Ann Kelly filed, on her own behalf and on behalf of Stephen’s estate, a pro se wrongful death action against Saint Francis and Burwell. On September 1, 2015, Ann filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint. Ann retained counsel for her amended complaint.The district court denied Ann’s motion and dismissed the action as untimely, concluding that the original complaint filed by Ann was a nullity and that an amended complaint cannot relate back to something that never existed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that the prior complaint was a nullity and that an amended complaint could not relate back to the filing of the original pro se complaint. View "Kelly v. Saint Francis Medical Center" on Justia Law
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Raven Addy-Cruz was killed in an automobile accident caused by Lyle Carman. Carman was employed by Lopez Trucking. Lopez Trucking had been hired by Werner Construction (Werner) to haul debris from a construction site. Addy-Cruz’s estate filed a wrongful death suit against Carman, the owner of Lopez Trucking (Lopez), and Werner. Summary judgment was entered in favor of Werner. The estate, Carman, and Lopez then entered a joint stipulation to dismiss without prejudice. Thereafter, the estate filed a notice of appeal from the order sustaining summary judgment in favor of Werner. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the estate’s voluntary dismissal of the cause of action without prejudice did not create a final order from which an appeal could be brought. View "Addy v. Lopez" on Justia Law

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Bruce Evertson was killed in a two-vehicle accident during the course and scope of his employment. Bruce’s estate filed a wrongful death claim against the insurer of the other driver. The county court accepted a settlement in the matter and allocated the proceeds among Bruce’s widow, Darla Evertson, and adult children. Darla received workers’ compensation benefits from Travelers Indemnity Company as a result of Bruce’s death. Travelers filed a subrogation claim to Darla’s settlement proceeds. The county court ordered that Travelers was not entitled to any distribution of Darla’s proceeds and did not provide Travelers any future credit against the workers’ compensation benefits it owed Darla. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and remanded with directions to vacate the order of the county court, holding that the county court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear and decide the subrogation matter. View "In re Estate of Evertson" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued Madison County under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act, alleging that the County was negligent for failing to maintain a vacated county road, causing injuries to some of Plaintiffs. The district court entered judgment against the County, concluding that the County breached its duty to maintain the vacated road. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial. On remand, the district court entered judgment in favor of the County, determining that the County retained its sovereign immunity because Plaintiffs’ claims fell within exemptions to the Act’s waiver of sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the County retained sovereign immunity with respect to its discretionary functions and therefore could not be held legally liable for its inaction. View "Blaser v. County of Madison" on Justia Law

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Ryan Zimmerman drove onto ConAgra Foods, Inc.’s Omaha campus and fired a gun five times at window washers working on ConAgra property. ConAgra filed a complaint seeking a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction enjoining Zimmerman from having any contact with ConAgra. The district court entered a temporary restraining order. After a hearing, the court dissolved the temporary injunction and denied ConAgra’s request for a permanent injunction, concluding that a single trespass does not give rise to injunctive relief. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded with directions to enter a one-year permanent injunction against Zimmerman, holding that, because the uncontroverted facts demonstrated that Zimmerman would trespass in the future in flagrant violation of criminal law upon ConAgra’s property, justice required a permanent injunction. View "ConAgra Foods, Inc. v. Zimmerman" on Justia Law
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Thomas Latzel was a passenger in the vehicle of Daniel Vanekelenburg, who was driving, when the vehicle collided with another vehicle driven by Patrick Gaughen. The collision occurred at an unmarked intersection of two county roads. Brothers Ronald Bartek and Doug Bartek owned the land to the southwest corner of the intersection. Before Thomas died from his injuries, his wife filed a negligence action against the drivers involved in the collision and the Barteks, alleging that the Barteks were negligent by planting corn too close to the roadside and by allowing the corn to obstruct the view of the intersection. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Barteks, concluding that the negligence of the drivers constituted an intervening cause as a matter of law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the actions of the drivers constituted an efficient intervening cause of the collision, which severed the causal connection between the conduct of the Barteks and the injuries received by Thomas.View "Latzel v. Bartek" on Justia Law
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A guest (“Guest”) at an apartment complex fell of a third-story apartment’s balcony, rendering him quadriplegic. Guest sued the apartment complex’s ownership (“Owner”) and management (“Manager”) under theories of joint and several liability. American Family Mutual Insurance Company held liability policies covering both Owner and Manager. Regent Insurance Company held liability policies covering Manager, but the parties disputed whether the policies also covered the “same risk” for Owner as an additional insured. American Family settled with Guest and sued Regent for equitable contribution toward the payment it made to Guest under the settlement agreement. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of American Family. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in its apportionment of the common obligation toward Guest’s settlement.View "Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co. v. Regent Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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In 2009, a pickup truck and a school bus collided at a rural intersection that had limited visibility and was “blind” for both drivers. A stop sign facing the truck was missing at the intersection. Jeff Hall, the driver of the truck, filed an action against the County of Lancaster and Norris School District, the owner of the bus, alleging that the collision was proximately caused by the negligence of the County and of Ronny Aden, the driver of the bus. The district court determined that both drivers were negligent. The court also concluded that the County was liable, reasoning it would have discovered the sign was missing if it had conducted regular sign inspections. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment finding the County liable, holding that the district court was clearly wrong in determining that the County’s lack of a sign-inspection policy was a proximate cause of the accident. Remanded for reallocation of liability between Hall and Norris.View "Hall v. County of Lancaster" on Justia Law
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